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| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

Toymakers are constantly coming up with new ideas for fun toys that children insist they must have. Unfortunately, what may seem like a good idea in the research and production stages may not always pan out when given to children in the real world.

According to the New York Times, the latest toys to come under scrutiny are Water Balz. When taken out of the package, the toy is the size of a marble, but when it is exposed to liquid, it can expand in size until it is about the diameter of a tennis ball. While a fun idea for bath time or in a pool, this gimmick could be very dangerous. Already, one case of this toy injuring a child has been reported.

An older child had been playing with Water Balz when her nine-month-old sister found and swallowed one. The parent didn’t realize what it was, but figured it would either pass through her system or dissolve, which is the case in at least 90% of these situations. However, because the toy expands when it gets wet, it started to grow in the child’s intestinal tract, causing it to become blocked. By the time the doctors did a scope to see what was causing the blockage, the marble-sized toy had become the size of a golf ball. Doctors had to surgically remove the toy because it had become too large to pass naturally.

The packaging on this toy clearly states that it is intended for kids over four years of age, but younger siblings can easily gain access to them if they are accidentally left out by an older child. Even older kids may be curious as to whether or not the ball would grow inside them and decide to swallow one.

We cannot expect others to protect us or our children from every product we encounter, but this particular product poses an even greater risk than other items that are small enough to be swallowed by children or pets because it increases in size once ingested. We hope that the company will reconsider the sale of this toy. In the meantime, we urge parents to be diligent in keeping them away from anyone who may be tempted to swallow one, either by keeping them out of reach or not even buying them in the first place.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.


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